A PIL was filed to highlight the casualties caused due to the “unauthorized speed breakers” constructed on the roads of Chhattisgarh, ignoring the guidelines which are issued by the State and Central Governments. According to the Petitioner, roads are being constructed in the State of Chhattisgarh by different authorities including the National Highway Authority of India, Public Works Department, Municipal Corporation, Municipal Councils along with the Gram Panchayats.
Arguments for the removal of Unauthorized Speed Breakers
The case of the Petitioner is that directions have to be issued to ensure that no speed breakers are constructed in any of the roads maintained by the Respondent authorities which do not conform to the specification given by the Indian Road Congress (or ‘IRC’) and if at all any, they shall be caused to be removed within a stipulated time.
The Petitioner points out the guidelines on the construction of ‘speed breakers’ for controlling the speed of vehicles have been drawn and finalized by the IRC, based on the necessary inputs collected from different corners and assessed by the Traffic Engineering Committee. According to the Petitioner, the speed breakers wherever permitted to be installed, provide visual, audible and tactile stimuli which alert the drivers and cause them to slow down. These can have different heights, lengths, spacings, signs etc. However, an ideally designed hump, as pointed out by the Petitioner, should satisfy the following requirements:
(i) there should be no damage to vehicles nor excessive discomfort to the drivers and passengers when passing at the preferred crossing speed,
(ii) the hump should not give rise to excessive noise or cause harmful vibrations to the adjoining buildings or affect the other residents of the area etc.
The Petitioner points out in the writ petition the use of the speed breakers as justified, primarily under the following three categories:
(i) T-intersections of minor roads with rural trunk highways, characterised by relatively low traffic volumes on the minor road but very high average operating speed and poor sight distances. Such locations have a high record of fatal accidents and as such a speed breaker on the minor road is recommended;
(ii) Intersections of minor roads with major roads, and mid-block sections in urban areas where it is desirable to bring down the speeds;
(iii) Selected local streets in residential areas, school, college or university campuses, hospitals, etc.
The Petitioner also places reliance on the annual publication of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways from road accidents in India occurred in the year 2016; pointing out that there were 9583 accidents and 3396 ‘accident deaths’ were attributed to the speed breakers. The petitioner alleges that no speed breakers can be constructed unless permission is granted by the Committee by the name ‘Zila Sadak Suraksha Samiti’ to be constituted in each District, which shall be headed by the District Collector. Referring to a news report published in one of the national dailies in India, it is stated that there are 2000 unauthorized speed breakers in the Raipur District itself, whereas the figure in the entire State would be more than 10,000. With specific reference to the constitutional right of every citizen (with reference to Article 19(1) (d), Article 21 and Article 38(2) of the Constitution of India), the Petitioner, who is a public-spirited citizen and stated to be associated with various socio-cultural organizations, moved the court.
When the matter came up for consideration before this Court on 10.12.2018, considering the gravity of the issue projected by the Petitioner, an order was passed on 08.01.2019. The authorities were directed to take necessary steps for removal of the illegal speed breakers within four weeks and to file a return as to the implementation by way of affidavit and necessary proceedings have been filed by the Respondent concerned, which was taken note of on 08.01.2019 to pass an order. On 21.11.2019, this Court directed the State to verify whether a proper Committee so as to deal with the issue has been constituted in all the districts in the State so that the remaining issue could be relegated to be brought to the notice of the Committee for remedial steps, as and when necessitated.
The Superintending Engineer, Shri R.K. Ratre, has filed an affidavit on 06.01.2020 referring to the various factual aspects as to the existence and removal of the ‘unauthorized speed breakers’ in various places and stating that the order passed by this Court has already been complied with, in letter and spirit. On 07.01.2020, the Petitioner’s counsel pointed out that some unauthorized speed breakers were still to be removed and the reason stated for the delay was that ‘Model Code of Conduct’ had already come into operation, in connection with the election notified to the local authorities. Referring to the 07.01.2020 order, the same officer has filed an affidavit dated 08.02.2020 reporting full compliance.
As we have observed, the petitioner brought a strong case exposing the inefficiency of the Secretary, Public Works Department. In view of the above facts and circumstances, the writ petition has been disposed of, directing the Respondents (State of Chhatisgarh) to ensure that no unauthorized speed breakers are constructed or setup and if at all any such instance is noted, it shall be removed and stringent action shall be taken against the persons/bodies responsible. Construction of the speed breakers shall occur at appropriate places, according to the IRC guidelines, after getting the permission of the District Committees (Zila Sadak Suraksha Samiti) concerned.
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